Posted in Archive, Novemeber 2020

Vulnerability is Strength

It’s a painsomnia night so I thought I would share with you all something that I’ve been coming back to frequently recently. Personally I’m a very sensitive, emotional person; now some may view that as a bad thing, others a good thing, some of you will be neutral. I can see the pros and cons, but it’s what makes me me, so yes I may cry buckets everytime we watch certain episodes of Vikings, or The Lion King but i’ll also laugh myself to stitches five minutes later. It’s a rollercoaster of life. It’s real, honest and truth.

So why do I, and I know many others with chronic illness will be able to identify with this, go on autopilot everytime a doctor, family member or friend asks after us? You know the drill, you walk into the drs room the doctor greets you and asks how you are before you get down to the nitty gritty. It’s a formality, so like a healthy person you respond with I’m good thanks, and you? It’s ridiculous! Why is it so hard to say you know what I’m actually not great at the moment and I need some help.

I forced myself to do this yesterday. I could hear the usual auto response slipping out my mouth, so I caught myself, took a breath, looked the doctor in the eye and said I’m pretty awful and I don’t know what to do. Now saying that wasn’t easy but boy did the relief for sharing the burden feel good. Making that choice to let the facade of I can cope with everything slip for a moment to ask for help took an incredible amount of inner strength and it’s something I’m going to practice doing more often. Vulnerability is not something to view in a negative light, in fact it allows others to reach out and see if they can improve your situation. Sometimes just talking things over can make a difference.

So just pause for a moment and think; are you like me and guilty of putting walls up? Is it worth flexing your inner strength and letting that vulnerability show? Let me know what you decide to do!

Posted in April 2016, Archive

Vulnerability and Dystonia

Living with a chronic condition can have a detrimental effect on the sufferers attitudes or mental health. Many people experience disbelief from both the public and medical professionals during their fight to achieve an accurate diagnosis. Due to this many choose to refrain from openly talking about mental health conditions and passed traumas with doctors and those close to them. Often this becomes an early defensive behavior that is learned in on order to prevent pre-emptive judgement.

In 2012 during my fight for a diagnosis I found myself in the John Radcliffe for 8 days as I had developed Pain Triggered Non Epileptic Seizures, and my Dystonia had spread from my jaw to my eyes. I was very honest about my past with the consultants in charge of my care. I expressed that I had suffered physical abuse during my teenage years, that I had sought help and that I was now in a much happier place. I still view being honest with the doctor in charge of my care as a mistake however, due to the fact I had had this unfortunate experience I was informed all my symptoms were psychosomatic, and that I need neuro-psychiatric contact. As I’m sure you can imagine I did not take this well. I remember clearly stating that I would go talk to their psychiatrist, purely so I could jump through their hoops and prove them wrong.

Mere months later I had my diagnosis of Dystonia and a letter from my neurologist stating that my past experiences had no impact on my current state of health. That letter has not stopped doctors and acquaintances questioning me over the years though. On numerous occasions I have been asked if I am depressed. I am generally an optimistic person who loves nothing more than to laugh. Yet being repeatedly questioned has its impact. I am defensive of my health, I feel like I have to justify myself and that leaves me feeling vulnerable. For if people struggle to believe me when they can see the physical symptoms in front of them, what else will they close their mind too? Vulnerability is an emotion that too many sufferers of chronic illness experience. It comes in both physical and emotional forms. One of the best things a person can hear is ‘I believe you’. It is an empowering statement that allows us to relax and breath. Acceptance free of doubt opens up a line of honest communication. Something that we all need.

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Posted in Archive, January

The Battle against my Foot, the Doctors and my Brain.

When you wake up in the morning, what do you? Do you mentally wrestle with yourself to throw back your warm duvet cover, swing your legs out into the unwelcoming cold, stand up and start your day? This is a simple task. One you do every day without thinking about it.

For me, simple is not an applicable word for this every day task. Most days my mother wakes me up to give me my first cocktail of medications for the day. I stay in bed, at the moment for breakfast, as venturing outside of the safety of my mattress is a dangerous move to make. When I eventually have to get out of bed, it involves me calling for my mum to help. Once I have managed to get to the edge of the bed, my mum takes one arm and my step-dad or sibling will take the other.  They support me/attempt to prevent me from falling as I try to walk.

At the moment when my right foot is forced to try and work normally, it fights back hard. Often winning. My toes curl them-selves under, my foot flips over so that the top of it scraps painfully along the floor. And then to put the icing on the cake, it will twist in unnatural painful positions, as it protests violently against my will.

For me, at the present time, getting up and moving is an exhausting task. One that fills me with dread every time I need the loo, or have to move to a different room. Each time I attempt to move around, I try to clear my mind from panic. I tell myself over and over again, that this time  it might just be different, I might manage to walk a few steps, like I was doing before Christmas. I fill my head with positive thoughts. However when my foot then starts to contort, it is physically and emotionally draining.

I wish the doctors could see me like this. See me at home, when I am out of my wheelchair. Where a small glitch in my brain makes me vulnerable in my own environment. Where I struggle to walk one step, where my family catches me when I collapse, where my family protect me from my surroundings when the pain causes me to have a Seizure. Where they could see that I need help now and not in a years time!

However I must remain positive, I must focus on the fact that before Christmas, I was slowly making progress, and learning to walk again. The fact I started to walk, reassure’s me that I will again. Until then I just have to suck it up and deal with it. I must be pro-active. So I shall blog , I shall write letters, and I shall make the doctors and the politicians listen. I shall make them understand just how life changing and debilitating Dystonia is and I shall make them take action! I shall not remain silent!